Executive director of Archewell Foundation leaves after one year

The executive director of Harry and Meghan’s Archewell Foundation has stepped down after just one year to take on a ‘senior advisory’ role at the organisation.

Catherine St-Laurent took on the position of chief of staff and executive director of the Sussexes’ non-profit enterprise in April 2020.

But it was today revealed that Meghan and Harry’s UK PR chief James Holt would take on the director role instead.

And, in a sign of the couple’s growing ventures across the pond, it was also announced that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have hired veteran producer Ben Browning to head up their film and TV company.

He will be responsible for the couple’s Netflix and Spotify deals – worth an estimated £80million.

Catherine St-Laurent (pictured), the executive director of Harry and Meghan's Archewell Foundation, has left her role after just one year to take on a 'senior advisory' position at the organisation

Catherine St-Laurent (pictured), the executive director of Harry and Meghan’s Archewell Foundation, has left her role after just one year to take on a ‘senior advisory’ position at the organisation

The executive director of Harry and Meghan's Archewell Foundation has left the top role after just one year to take on a 'senior advisory' role. Pictured: Harry and Meghan's Oprah interview

The executive director of Harry and Meghan’s Archewell Foundation has left the top role after just one year to take on a ‘senior advisory’ role. Pictured: Harry and Meghan’s Oprah interview

And, in a sign of the couple's growing ventures across the pond, it was today announced that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have hired veteran producer Ben Browning (pictured) to head up their film and TV company

Mr Browning (pictured) has previously worked on films including The Big Sick, Arrival, Room and Late Night and is set to head up Archewell's work with Spotify and Netflix

And, in a sign of the couple’s growing ventures across the pond, it was today announced that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have hired veteran producer Ben Browning (pictured) to head up their film and TV company

Ms St-Laurent's LinkedIn page (pictured) still states she is the executive director at the Archewell foundation

Ms St-Laurent’s LinkedIn page (pictured) still states she is the executive director at the Archewell foundation

CATHERINE ST-LAURENT: ‘SENIOR ADVISORY ROLE’

Catherine St-Laurent

Old position: Executive director of the Archewell Foundation

New position: A ‘senior advisory role’ at the Archewell Foundation

Catherine St-Laurent took on the position of chief of staff and executive director of the Sussexes’ non-profit enterprise the Archewell Foundation in April 2020.

The Canadian-born French speaker was previously the director at Pivotal Ventures – Melinda Gates’ women and families foundation – and held a top communications role at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 

At the time of her appointment, a friend told the Mail that Ms St-Laurent  was ‘feisty, fair and up for a tough conversation’, adding: ‘But if all goes wrong, she is good for a laugh and a cocktail afterwards. 

‘She’s a good egg. She’ll bring a clean-sheet perspective.’

After her hiring last year, the Sussexes had said: ‘We are proud to be joined by Catherine St-Laurent in this next chapter with us.

‘Her leadership and proven track record working within two organizations that have tremendous impact in the world — the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Pivotal Ventures make her an incredible asset and we’re excited to have her on our team.’

In a departing email to staff, she announced: ‘I am thrilled to be able to play a supporting role in realising their vision and enabling them to achieve impact on the issues that matter most to them.’

It has now been revealed that mother-of-two Ms St-Laurent will instead take on a senior advisory role for Archewell, and will ‘continue to bring high-level strategic guidance’ to the foundation, a spokesman told Page Six. 

Mother-of-two Ms St-Laurent will take on a senior advisory role for Archewell, and will ‘continue to bring high-level strategic guidance’ to the foundation, a spokesman told Page Six.

The Canadian-born French speaker was previously the director at Pivotal Ventures – Melinda Gates’ women and families foundation – and held a top communications role at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 

At the time of her appointment, she said she was ‘thrilled to be able to play a supporting role in realising their vision and enabling them to achieve impact on the issues that matter most to them’. 

Commenting on her shift, an insider told The Daily Telegraph: ‘[Catherine is] very bubbly and a big personality. 

‘She was the bright hope to run their organisation so this is surprising news. They do not have a big team out in LA so this is going to be a blow.’

Mr Holt formerly led communications for the Royal Foundation, the charity headed by the Cambridges, and for the Liberal Democrats.

He is said to be passionate about many of the causes championed by Harry and Meghan. 

A spokesperson for the Sussexes said Ms St-Laurent ‘will continue to bring high-level strategic guidance to Archewell, which she helped launch and build over the course of the past year’. 

Just days after Meghan and Harry’s bombshell two-hour Oprah Winfrey special, the couple announced they were hiring producer Mr Browning to head up their film and television ambitions in the US.

He has taken on the role of head of content for Archewell Productions and Archewell Audio after being recommended to the couple by a mutual entertainment industry contact.

Mr Browning has previously worked on films including The Big Sick, Arrival, Room and Late Night and is set to head up Archewell’s work with Spotify and Netflix.

Most recently,  Mr Browning worked on Promising Young Woman, starring Carey Mulligan, which was nominated for five Oscars.

Mr Browning said in a statement to Forbes: ‘From the moment they shared their vision for Archewell as a global production company that will spotlight diverse voices and share uplifting stories, I knew I wanted to help with this unique opportunity.

‘It’s a thrilling company to be starting.’ 

It comes days after reports that a law firm brought in by Buckingham Palace to review the handling of claims that the Duchess of Sussex bullied staff is drafting questions to be sent to current and former employees.

The allegations – angrily denied by the Duchess –were made in October 2018 when Jason Knauf, then Meghan and Harry’s communications secretary, detailed his concerns in an email to Simon Case, then the Duke of Cambridge’s private secretary.

Melissa Touabti (pictured), Meghan's personal assistant, departed six months after the royal wedding

Harry and Meghan’s shared private secretary Samantha Cohen (pictured) resigned after 17 years with the royal family just weeks after Ms Toubati

Melissa Touabti (left), Meghan’s personal assistant, departed six months after the royal wedding. Harry and Meghan’s shared private secretary Samantha Cohen (right) resigned after 17 years with the royal family just weeks after Ms Toubati 

In the email, published by The Times, Mr Knauf wrote: ‘I am very concerned that the Duchess was able to bully two PAs out of the household… 

‘The treatment of [X, name redacted] was totally unacceptable… 

‘The Duchess seems intent on always having someone in her sights. She is bullying [Y] and seeking to undermine her confidence.’

A spokesman for the Sussexes said the couple were victims of a calculated smear campaign, adding that the Duchess was ‘saddened by this latest attack on her character, particularly as someone who has been the target of bullying herself’. 

An independent law firm is assessing if ‘lessons can be learnt’ from the handling of the original complaint with aides past and present invited to contribute.

A Palace spokesman declined to comment, but a source said the public should not expect ‘a running commentary’ on the inquiry, which is unlikely to conclude until next year. 

In the UK, the couple lost several staff while acting as senior working royals.

Melissa Touabti, Meghan’s personal assistant, departed six months after the royal wedding. 

Harry and Meghan’s shared private secretary Samantha Cohen resigned after 17 years with the royal family just weeks after Ms Toubati.

JAMES HOLT: THE NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE ARCHEWELL FOUNDATION

James Holt

It was today revealed that Meghan and Harry's UK PR chief James Holt (pictured) would take on the director role

It was today revealed that Meghan and Harry’s UK PR chief James Holt (pictured) would take on the director role 

Old position: UK PR spokesman

New position: Executive director of the Archewell Foundation

James Holt previously led communications for the Royal Foundation, the charity headed by the Cambridges.

Holt has worked at Kensington Palace for several years – as well as for the Liberal Democrats – and is passionate about many of the causes championed by Harry and Meghan.

He acted as Harry and Meghan’s UK spokesman and will now take on the role of executive director of the Archewell Foundation.

Holt, a BA Journalism graduate from the University of Lincoln, rose to the position of Head of Media for the Liberal Democrats in 2010 – and stayed in the role until August 2013.

He worked as Special Adviser to the Deputy Prime Minister – Nick Clegg – from June 2013 to January 2014, and moved up to become Head of Government Communications for the Deputy PM until September 2014.

He took on the voluntary position of Director of Communications for Pride in London between March 2016 and November 2017.

In October 2017 he took up the role of Senior Communications Officer for The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry – staying in the role for one year.

He then became Head of Communications at The Royal Foundation for one year, until September 2019.

BEN BROWNING: HEAD OF CONTENT FOR ARCHEWELL  

Ben Browning

Ben Browning, Head of content for Archewell Productions and Archewell Audio

Ben Browning, Head of content for Archewell Productions and Archewell Audio

New position: Head of content for Archewell Productions and Archewell Audio

Veteran producer Mr Browning has previously worked on films including The Big Sick, Arrival, Room and Late Night and is set to head up Archewell’s work with Spotify and Netflix.

Most recently,  Mr Browning worked on Promising Young Woman, starring Carey Mulligan, which was nominated for five Oscars. 

It is thought that Browning will be working closely with Spotify and Netflix to help bring Archwell’s creative partnerships to life, Harpers Bazaar reports.

Browning has been nominated for a BAFTA Award, Academy Award and PGA Award for his role in the production of Promising Young Woman, starring Carey Mulligan.

He had also previously worked as executive producer on HBO’s I Know This Much Is True, which stars Mark Ruffalo.

Browning said in a statement: ‘The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have founded a next-generation production company with best-in-class distribution partners in Netflix and Spotify, a clear agenda to inform and entertain, and an unparalleled global reach.

‘From the moment they shared their vision for Archewell as a global production company that will spotlight diverse voices and share uplifting stories, I knew I wanted to help with this unique opportunity. 

‘It’s a thrilling company to be starting.’

source: dailymail.co.uk